OK - so let's clear things up. Is this the best Mariah album of all-time?...probably not, but don't be confused by some negative press, slack first week sales or even first impressions. This is a slow-burning hit! After a few listens you stop obsessing about how this isn't a typical Mariah album and begin to appreciate this as possibly her most cohesive body of work since her debut. This is a superby crafted album, with each story interwoven via interludes and repeated phrases to create a consistent piece of artistic expression. What initially comes across as everything sounding the same - after a couple of listens reveals each song as one chapter (or memoir) in Mariah's love/life story and is exceptional. So it's not the same as everything else she's done - true - and if it had of been would she have been criticized for trying to recreate Mimi?
While some tracks feel more album filler than floor filler - there are some perfectly crafted songs which resonate with warmth, cutting homour, sarcasm and heartbreak - indeed it seems ironic that Mariah would write the best break-up album of her career (with the arguable exception of Butterfly) when she is happily married! Stand-out tracks are "Betcha Gon Know" (possibly the classiest slice of R & B Carey has ever produced), "Obsessed" and it's slightly darker sister track "Standing O", "H.A.T.E.U", "Inseperable", the superb "Up Out My Face" (which is a sure-fire number 1 if marketed correctly) and "Angels Cry" - in my opinion the best Mariah ballad we've heard in years. With every song concentrating on love and heartbreak - the only thing the album lacks is an anthem. Carey's ability to write universal songs of inspiration and reflection such as Make it Happen, Hero, Can't take that away (Mariah's theme), Close My Eyes and so on have often been the tracks that have been most requested and most treasured by her adoring fan base, and the lack of one on "Memoirs" is noticeably absent.
Ultimately - this album may not sell what it deserves to as people may surf the samples once and not re-listen, which would be a great shame. For my money, Mariah has written, sung and co-produced a bravely different album which deserves high-ranking status in her back-catalogue, and once again proves that Carey's platinum voice and under-rated song-writing deserves it's already cemented place in music history.